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Brickell signs football letter of intent with Nevada

Fallbrook High School senior Zach Brickell has signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Nevada.

The San Diego Hall of Champions invited high school seniors signing college athletic letters of intent to a National Signing Day event the morning of Feb. 3, and Brickell faxed his letter of intent from the Hall of Champions after signing it that morning.

“I’m excited to be going to Reno, and I’m going to help out their good reputation as much as I can,” Brickell said.

“We look at him as a diamond in the rough,” said Nevada head coach Chris Ault. “We just think he’s going to be an excellent prospect for us.”

Brickell was born in Orange County and attended elementary school in Laguna Niguel before his family moved to Fallbrook when he was in fifth grade. He attended St. Peter’s Catholic School before his four years at Fallbrook High School.

Brickell played Pop Warner Football for the Dana Hills organization prior to moving to Fallbrook and playing in the Fallbrook Pop Warner organization.

Brickell played on Fallbrook High School’s freshman football team as a ninth-grader before spending three years on the Warrior varsity. He was a defensive end and played some offensive downs as a center. Brickell was recruited by Nevada as a defensive end.

“He’s got great athleticism,” Ault said. “We think he’ll be able to do a couple of things on the defensive side of the ball for us.”

As a senior Brickell earned his first all-league honors; he was named to the Avocado League’s second team. “The team struggled a little bit, but I felt I did the best I could,” he said. (A 2-8 regular-season record, including a 1-4 Avocado League mark, gave Fallbrook the final seed in the CIF Division I playoffs. The Warriors defeated Rancho Bernardo in the playoff opener before losing to Vista in the quarterfinals.)

“I think he’s sort of coming into his own,” said Fallbrook High School head coach Joe Silvey. “He’s got a lot of growing still to do, and I think he’ll really develop there at Nevada.”

As a ninth-grader Brickell also played on Fallbrook’s freshman basketball team and threw the shot put on the junior varsity track and field team. As a junior and senior he played lacrosse during the Spring sports season and was a starter on Fallbrook’s varsity squad. This year he was on the Fallbrook Rugby Club high school team which won the Southern California championship, although he is not playing during the spring club season due to his football scholarship.

Brickell was recruited by Nevada assistant coach Ken Wilson, who was the linebackers coach in 2009 and who will be the defensive ends coach in 2010. Brickell’s pre-signing activities included a recruiting trip to the Reno campus. “They explained what they run for defense, and that’s what I like to do,” he said.

Brickell also likes snowboarding and fishing, which are available in nearby Lake Tahoe. “Tahoe’s pretty good,” he said.

Brickell’s father, Doug, is a captain with the Orange County Fire Department. Brickell plans to study forestry at Nevada and hopes to join the fire service.

“I like the area. I like the campus,” Brickell said of Nevada.

The cold weather in northern Nevada wasn’t a deterrent. “I want to experience actual Winter, not the 70 degree Winter,” he said. “I’m ready for a change.”

Brickell was also considering Montana and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Brickell prefers Reno’s weather to that of Missoula, Montana. “I wanted to go somewhere cold but not Montana cold,” he said.

He doesn’t consider Las Vegas to be much of a change from San Diego. “I thought it would be kind of pointless to get out of San Diego and go to another desert,” he said.

Nevada plays in the Western Athletic Conference, and in 2008 WAC league champion Boise State played in San Diego’s Poinsettia Bowl. “San Diego’s not that bad if I’m coming back for a few days,” Brickell said of the possibility of a Poinsettia Bowl game. “If it’s a bowl game I won’t be complaining where it is.”

In 2009 Nevada played Southern Methodist in the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu. The loss to SMU gave the Wolf Pack a final 8-5 record for the season, including a 7-1 record in WAC competition which was marred only by a loss to undefeated Boise State.

“We’re excited for Zach. We think he has a tremendous opportunity at Nevada,” Silvey said.

Ault plans to redshirt Brickell for the 2010 season, noting the need for college freshmen to get used to the academic and social demands of college as well as the athletic level of play.

“They’ve got to get used to the system,” Ault said.

Brickell’s performance will determine how much he plays during the 2011 season. “You’ve just got to be the best candidate for the job,” he said.

Silvey believes that Brickell will find playing time with the Wolf Pack. “Looking forward to watching him at Nevada,” Silvey said. “Looking forward to seeing him play at the next level.”

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